March 3 - UK liner agency DKT Allseas - a 50/50 joint venture between Allseas Global and De Keyser Thornton (DKT) - held a customer event to mark the maiden call of Bahri's con-ro (container/ro-ro) ship Bahri Jeddah at the Port of Tilbury.
The ship serves in the Saudi Arabian shipping company's recently started liner service from northern Europe to the Middle East.
Customers attended a full vessel tour and spent time on the ship's bridge with DKT Allseas staff, the ship's captain and senior officers.
After loading a number of high and heavy cargoes, the vessel set sail for Bremerhaven - from where it will continue to the Middle East.
Bahri Jeddah at the southern UK Port of Tilbury.
Operating on a 26-day rotation, the liner service calls at Tilbury, Bremerhaven, Antwerp and Bilbao, before passing through the Suez Canal to call at Jeddah, Jebel Ali and Dammam, and returning to Tilbury via Jeddah.
Additional ports of call in Africa and the Middle East are available subject to suitable inducement or via transhipment through owned tonnage and partner carrier services.
HLPFI reported in October 2015 that Bahri was to begin its first regular liner service between Europe and the Middle East in November 2015. The service deploys two con-ro ships, Bahri Jeddah and Bahri Abha, both of which were built in 2013 and have a deadweight of 25,957 tonnes.
The ship's master, Captain Ramadan Hashhoush, explained that this was actually the third voyage of the new service, but the first time it had called at Tilbury.
For the previous two voyages, cargo in Tilbury was carried to Antwerp for loading on the Bahri service at no additional cost to the clients, explained Bahri's UK agent DKT Allseas.
Capt Hashhoush highlighted the benefits of Bahri Jeddah's versatility. "This is a multipurpose ship - we can load ro-ro and heavy lift cargoes, as well as breakbulk and containers. Whatever cargo you have, we can load it."
He told HLPFI that Bahri carries a variety of high and heavy cargo on its service, including power generation equipment and construction machinery, as well as a lot of military cargo for the Saudi government.
Bahri Jeddah is one of six ships, delivered between 2013 and 2015. It has seven decks, including two hoistable decks, a ro-ro ramp capacity of 250 tonnes, clear deck height of 6.8 m, and the ability to carry up to 700 cars.
The ship has a combined deck capacity of around 25,000 sq m and a container capacity of 300 teu, which can be used for auxiliary equipment for large projects. It also has two 120-tonne capacity cranes, capable of loading heavy lift cargoes weighing up to 240 tonnes.
Trevor Kay, line manager for the new Bahri service at DKT Allseas, explained that one of the reasons for bringing the service to the Port of Tilbury was the difficulty of competing with the ro-ro sector at the Port of Southampton.
With a number of ro-ro vessels regularly calling in Southampton, the port can become very busy and cannot promise priority to a carrier offering a monthly service, claimed Kay.
In addition to this, noted Kay, ro-ro cargo is only a portion of what Bahri is aiming to carry, with oversize project cargoes being a prime focus.
"We understand that Tilbury is hungry to diversify and seek additional services, as it has lost some container business to London Gateway. The port authority has been very accommodating thus far, so it made sense to bring the service here," said Kay.
Moreover, he added, the feedback we have received from the customer base we are approaching suggests that the Port of Tilbury is workable from a geographical point of view.
He added that there is plenty of storage at the London port, while the entire quay can also be used for loading operations, including those using the vessel's gear. "We have been given pretty much a free rein here to make this work."
Kay told HLPFI that the company has considered a northern UK port due to the region's large manufacturing sector, but none appear to offer the same advantages as the Port of Tilbury in terms of loading and unloading space.
He noted, however, that DKT Allseas in conjunction with Bahri would be willing to consider inducement calls at other ports in the UK, if this assisted in securing a project shipment of abnormal loads that could not be brought to Tilbury.
He continued: "Many customers still consider shipping high and heavy cargo from the UK to Antwerp, for example, where it can be consolidated into liner services; but there is no longer a need to do that.
"With this new service, they have the ability to ship such cargo directly from the UK, avoiding the need for transhipment and the associated handling risks."
Captain Ramadan Hashhoush tells HLPFI news editor Annie Roberts about the advantages of shipping project cargo on Bahri's new European service.